Tag Archives: supplements

Beyond Izzy’s pram (managing dogs through to old age) Part 4 – Food

We’re going higher up the ladder this week to the third rung:  Food & Supplements. 

In many resources, food and supplements are talked about together because food is eaten and most supplements are, too.  I’m going to write about Food now, however, and save Supplements for the next post to keep the length of the post manageable and easier to read.  There’s still a lot I want to cover.

Arthritis management diagram 3rd rung

So in my last post about weight management, I mentioned that sometimes I ask my clients to simply reduce the food they are feeding by up to 1/3 per meal because a diet food is not always needed if the diet is balanced.  That advice was specifically addressing the need to lose weight.

In Part 3, I also included a diagram about body condition.  Dogs of all ages should be fed to body condition; the labels on dog food are a guide and not the Bible.  So, if a dog is gaining weight, then we may cut back on food a bit and help them reach an ideal weight again.  Sometimes, we end up cutting back too much and then we have to feed a little more.

This is where the ladder analogy helps us.  We can go up and down a ladder fairly easily.  And when managing our dog’s health, we have to be prepared to re-visit issues and change approaches accordingly.

Sometimes we go up the ladder and sometimes we go down.

Older dogs generally have a slower metabolism and combined with less physical activity because they are slowing down (with or without arthritis) –  they require less calories.

There are also other considerations for diets when your dog is older. 

For example, if your dog has been diagnosed with kidney disease, then a diet lower in protein is recommended because the kidneys process extra protein for removal in the  urine.  If the kidneys aren’t working well, we need to lessen the pressure on them.  If this is the case, your vet will probably recommend a commercial diet to meet those needs.

Protein is important for muscles – keeping them strong and helping them to repair themselves.  Proteins are a source of energy; they help keep the immune system strong, and have a role in creating enzymes and hormones.  They’re an essential part of the diet.

(When I started making my own dog treats for sale, I remember talking with a Board-certified veterinarian at the Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston.  She was of the view then that all older dogs should have reduced protein diets.  But in the intervening years, more research has shown that this is not the case.  A lesson for all of us.   As we gather more information through study and research, professional advice may change.)

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), we understand that older animals don’t have the digestive energy that younger dogs do.  Therefore, protein sources should be highly digestible when you are managing an older dog.  This is a main reason why I like the homemade and topper approach to foods.  I use a good quality dry dog food, but I enhance it with many fresh ingredients.

A few sources of good protein toppers are:

  • Eggs (whole) –  I like to hard boil eggs and then slice the over the kibble before adding warm water
  • Cottage cheese
  • Sardines

I also cook my own toppers.

Toppers add palatability (taste) and because the dog’s sense of smell is much better than our own, I think the toppers add appeal through smell, too.

If a dog has an arthritis diagnosis, then “Joint Diet” foods are readily available and companies like Hill’s have undertaken feeding trials to prove their diets are balanced.  As part of the research into the product, the veterinary team observed a reduction in the clinical signs of arthritis with a subsequent reduction in the dosages of anti-inflammatory drugs that were required to manage the dog’s pain and arthritis symptoms.

That said, I have never fed a joint diet because I really dislike the ingredient panel in these highly processed foods.  I’ve always felt that if we are told to keep fresh things in our diet, then the same should go for our dogs. I can still use supplements and other modalities to manage arthritis and inflammatory pain.  I just don’t need to have a ‘complete solution in a bag.’  (This post is getting long – see why I chose to leave Supplements to their own post?)

Because digestion in an older dog is slower, if they have less physical activity such as recovery from a surgery or advancing arthritis, they can also become constipated from time to time.  Drugs like Tramadol are also constipating. (This happens in rest homes with older people, too.  An older person who lives their life in a wheelchair and unable to walk around much and on medication often finds that it is harder to get the bowels moving.)

More fibre combined with good hydration helps keep the bowels doing what they need to do (rid the body of wastes and toxins) and the best addition to food for fibre is steamed pumpkin.  I know that tinned or canned pumpkin is also very popular in the USA as well.

Parents need to watch what they are giving as treats, too.  Treats are food and add calories to the diet – but they also add variety and variety is the spice of life!  If an older dog has lost some teeth over the years, for example, harder treats may need to be avoided in favor of softer ones.  If we are focusing on hydration to help manage constipation, softer texture treats or those that can be soaked in water are a good idea.

Izzy with pigs ear

Izzy the greyhound with a pigs ear. These help to clean her teeth to some extent (although we brush her teeth every night, too). Treats add variety to the diet and because I source my pigs ears locally, I am more confident in their quality.

Got questions about this post?  Please feel free to post a message or contact me through my practice, The Balanced Dog.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Fish oil supplements – beware!

I regularly see posts on Facebook about supplementing dogs with fish oils.  I meet new clients fairly regularly who feel they are doing the right thing by feeding fish oil supplements to their dogs as a source of Omega 3 and for anti-inflammatory support.

However, most owners seem unaware of the studies that most commercial fish oil supplements in New Zealand are oxidised – meaning that the levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids is dramatically lower than claimed on the label.  I’m not in favour of ingesting rancid oils!

In fact, this 2015 study found that only 8% of the supplements tested in the New Zealand market met the levels expected by international recommendations.  And higher-priced supplements and those with brand name labels were no indicators of better quality.

Another study based on supplements available in Canada showed that 50% of the supplements tested were oxidised.

In keeping with my philosophy of food as a source of wellness, I’ve moved away from the concept of fish oil supplementation using commercial supplements and instead choose real-life salmon and sardines as a source of fish oils.

If I was a dog, I’d choose a few sardines over a fish oil capsule any day!

tinned sardines

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Time to budget

It’s a holiday weekend in New Zealand  – for Labour Day.  And every year this holiday also marks the start of the pre-Christmas season.  christmas_dog_highdefinition_picture_168935

As many of you understand, Christmas falls in the summer school holiday period in New Zealand. Many companies shut down during this time and require their workers to take some of their annual leave, since trading can be minimal or non-existent.    If workers don’t have enough paid days, then it can mean time off without pay.

And every year, for a range of reasons including more money being spent on holidays, entertaining and gifts, I see owners who can’t fund the full costs of their dog’s care.

This blog post is a reminder about the items you need to set money aside for in your end of year budget. And the time to budget is NOW.

dog-budgeting

  • Food
  • Treats
  • Medications
  • Supplements
  • Costs for vet care, such as visits for required vaccinations if you are boarding your dog
  • Boarding and care costs, if you are heading away

Just as in people, medications and supplements are only effective if their dosage is kept up.  And dogs on things like pain medication will suffer with break-through pain as medications wear off.  In other cases – let’s say heart medication – stopping this medication could be life-threatening.

Because of their stoic nature, dogs often hide their pain and/or owners miss the signals – such as withdrawing from activity – which are indicators of a dog in pain.  For this reason, some owners think they can get away with a ‘short break’ from medication.

With supplements, once the loading doses are given and the effective dose is reached, there is a level of stability with the coverage given by the supplement.  Stop giving it and you are faced with starting a loading dose all over again.  Many owners miss this step and go back to regular dosages, further compromising the value to the dog of giving the supplement in the first place!

When we take on a dog into our family, we’re responsible for lifetime care as with any other family member.  When there is only so much money to go around, sometimes the silent member of the family – the dog – is the one to miss out.

Please remember health care is a basic right for all animals and plan your holiday budget accordingly.  If that means less money for Christmas festivities – so be it.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Teaching others the benefits of dog massage

Last weekend, I held my first dog massage workshops in five years.  These half-day workshops cover my own 12-step relaxation massage sequence for dogs along with the basics of gait analysis, senior dog care and keeping records on lumps and bumps.

Today, I received this text:

“Hi, Coffee and I came to your massage class last weekend and, when we were doing hands on, I noticed a golf-ball sized lump on her.  I took her to the vet and they have operated and removed it, so just wanted to say thanks as would not have come across it if it wasn’t for your class.”

I can’t wait to do more workshops on a variety of holistic dog care topics…and I am so happy that Coffee’s lump was found in time – all because of massage.

And here are some photos from the weekend:

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Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

The little gadget that every dog parent should have

The little gadget that I recommend is a pill splitter. It isn’t high tech and, at most, it will cost you about $2.

But, if your dog needs medication or supplements and the dosage requires a half tablet, then you’ll be glad you bought one!

It’s really quite simple:    The lid contains a razor blade (note label warnings on the side about keeping it away from fingers and children)

Place the bill in the base of the splitter

Place the pill in the base of the splitter

Close the lid

Close the lid and push gently

Voila!  The pill is evenly cut in half for a proper dosage

Voila! The pill is evenly cut in half for a proper dosage

Do you have a story about giving your dog medication? If so, get in touch!

Kathleen Crisley, Specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Importing veterinary medicines and supplements into New Zealand

In my NZ Dog World column this month, I promised to include more information about the importing requirements if you are considering buying a supplement or medicine from overseas.  Here’s that information…

I’ll caution you again – this is not an easy area to work in or understand!  (Although the NZ Food Safety Authority recommends using a consultant for importing applications, I tried to contact two consultants from the consultants list to clarify a few points for my research.  Neither have replied.)

Until this month, the NZFSA used something called the Register of Allowable Nutrients with Known Therapeutic Uses in Exempt Oral Nutritional Compounds.  Glucosamine, for example, was included on the register.  The NZFSA website has recently announced:

“The register of allowable nutrients with known therapeutic uses in exempt oral nutritional compounds is no longer in use. Nutrients formerly listed on that register will now be evaluated solely on safety and pharmacological thresholds as applicable. Products with expressly stated or obviously implied therapeutic and/or pharmacological claims will still require registration. The limitations on species uses or pure supplements will no longer be applied.

I asked NZFSA what this means for the average pet owner who many want to buy a glucosamine supplement from an overseas supplier that was previously allowed into the country.  I got a very prompt reply from Linley Thorburn, an Advisor at the NZFSA (which was much appreciated).

She says:

There must be a clear nutritional claim made on the label for the product to be considered exempt.  If the product is making a claim to treat arthritis, then the product would require registration and be supported by efficacy data. Also, safety thresholds will be established for oral nutritional compounds that contain ingredients like, glucosamine, chondroitin etc.

Products currently registered containing these ingredients that have a clear nutritional claim will no longer require registration.

It sounds like the work to establish the safety thresholds hasn’t happened yet, but the fact that products that are currently registered that contain the ingredients will no longer require registration means that direct importing should become easier.

As I mentioned in my article, the best thing to check before considering purchasing a product from overseas is the ACVM register.  Look for the product by name and if it is registered, chances are you won’t be able to import it directly unless it falls under the new requirements.

In addition, this month MAF announced new rules for “Registration by Reference”   In some circumstances, the NZFSA will allow determinations made by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) to carry weight in New Zealand – reducing the time and costs for the registration process.   This change only pertains to products for non-food producing animals (i.e., pets).

MAF says that this move could encourage a greater range of products to be registered in the New Zealand market, particularly for products with a limited demand.  If this open doors to more product selection, dog owners and veterinary professionals will have a wider range of choices for animal care.

My fingers are crossed that suppliers and veterinary medicine companies will take advantage of this change!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand