Pet Health

Keeping your pet healthy is critical to their longevity of life. This means feeding them and giving them the proper nutrients they need. There are plenty of pet health fads out there, but how do you know what works and what is just a trend? What should you look for in a pet supplement? This blog post is here to help you understand what different vitamins and minerals do on a biological level, and how different foods can affect their diet and overall health.

Vitamins & Minerals

Vitamins and minerals do different things to help the body function. Lack of any one of them can alter your pet’s overall health and lead to problems with weight, immune function, organ function, muscle and bone health, and even longevity. It is important that your pet receive these critical vitamins and minerals in order to maintain a health, active lifestyle.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is fat soluble and aids in growth, immune health, and cell function.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B has multiple types, from B1 to B12. B1, Thiamine, regulates metabolism and energy. B12, Riboflavin, and B3, Niacin, facilitate enzymatic processes. Vitamin B6, Pyridoxine, regulates hormones, the nervous system, immune response and gene activation. It also oversees the production of glucose and red blood cells. Vitamin B5, Pantothenic Acid, assists in energy metabolism. And Folic Acid, which is loosely known as Vitamin B9, synthesizes proteins and metabolizes amino acids.

Vitamin C

Like with humans, our pets need Vitamin C for its powerful antioxidant properties. Vitamin C can reduce the effects of aging, reduce free radicals and inflammation. Animals have the ability to self-synthesize Vitamin C in their livers, but for some supplementation can be beneficial.

Vitamin D

In pets, Vitamin D helps to balance phosphorus and calcium for healthy bones. Vitamin D is important because, without it, development and maintenance of healthy muscles and bones would be impossible.

Vitamin E

In pets, Vitamin D helps to balance phosphorus and calcium for healthy bones. Vitamin D is important because, without it, development and maintenance of healthy muscles and bones would be impossible.

Vitamin K

This vitamin is critical in forming blood clots. Ever clipped your dog’s toenails and come just a bit too close to the quick? They bleed, yes, but a deficiency in Vitamin K means your house now looks like a murder scene. Not speaking from personal experience whatsoever, nope, totally an example.

Calcium & Phosphorus

Calcium and phosphorus as considered structural minerals since they are the main components of bones and teeth. Calcium is also important for heart health, it aids in the constriction and dilation of blood vessels. Calcium also plays other roles as well, in blood coagulation, nerve impulse transmission, muscle contraction, hormone secretion, and enzyme function. These minerals are especially important in senior pets, as the degradation of the teeth can lead to nutrient deficiency since degradation of teeth can mean pain, and painful teeth do not want to chew hard kibble.

Glucosamine & Chondroitin

Like humans, cats and dogs have joints. Also like humans, their joints can become painful as they age with stiffness, depletion of cartilage and arthritis. Glucosamine and Chondroitin are two minerals that strengthen bones and joints, restore hydration to dried cartilage, and ease the pain of stiffness. These are critical for senior pets or pets with a predisposition to elbow or hip dysplasia.

Iron

Iron is a central component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood and is what gives blood its red pigmentation. Iron also comes into play with neuromuscular transmission, working in conjunction with magnesium.

Magnesium

Magnesium plays a role in intracellular fluid, enzyme function, and bone. It is primarily stored in the bone and is most used in neuromuscular transmissions. Like in humans, magnesium aids in recovery and is and important mineral for pets who of high activity, who have undergone surgery, or are recovering from an illness.

Sodium, Potassium & Chloride

These minerals are essential electrolytes and help maintain the body’s fluid levels. These minerals balance the acid-base balance within the body, osmotic balance (or the balance of fluid in cells, which helps promote health cellular function), nerve impulse transmission, and muscle function. Lack of these electrolytes can mean dehydration in your pet, and severe dehydration or prolonged dehydration can lead organ failure. Trace amounts of these minerals can be found in water, but the majority of these minerals can be found in your pet’s food or provided through a supplement.

Zinc

Zinc plays a critical role in enzymatic function, and is an activator of 200+ enzymes. Zinc’s most notable functions include cellular regeneration (wound healing), cellular growth, cellular reproduction, and immune health in cells (innate and learned immunity).


Nutrition

Your pet’s nutrition is part of living a healthy life. We can attest as humans that what we eat determines how long we live, how we feel, our activity levels and our health. The same can be said for our pets. A cat or dog’s digestion is different than a humans, but not too far off. There are certain foods that cats and dogs can eat that give them some extra health benefits.

Carrots

Carrots contain Vitamin A, B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Fiber, Magnesium, Manganese, and Phosphorus. They are also a delicious treat for your pup.

Chia

We are constantly told as humans to eat chia. This is because chia seeds have a high fiber content, are packed with protein and antioxidants, and also have valuable omega-3s and calcium. Chia seeds are also highly absorbent. For this reason, they can be used to give your pet extra hydration. Many pets are under hydrated, you can help by soaking chia seeds in water and a little bit of broth for flavor. Add this to their food so they eat it along with their regular meal.

Fish

There are a lot of fish in the sea, but only certain fish contain the necessary Omega-3s. Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sardines and Herring all make the cut. Not only are fish packed with protein, vitamins and minerals, but the omegas reduce skin irritation and leave a soft, shiny coat. They also can have anti-inflammatory effects.

Flaxseed

Flaxseed comes in many forms which give it more versatility when it comes to being added to pet food. Flaxseed in its natural form is a solid seed, it can also be roughly ground, finely ground (into an almost powder), and also comes in an oil. Flaxseed is high in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which (like fish oil) can keep your dog’s coat shiny and skin healthy. Dogs who suffer from dry skin or dandruff can benefit from adding flaxseed to their diet. Flaxseed also contains something called alpha-linolenic acid, a building block of Omega-3 (similar to linoleic acid), which has anti-inflammatory properties and can promote immune health.

Green Beans

Green beans are a fiber dense vegetable. They are full of Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Iron, and Calcium. They are also fairly high in protein and low in calories. This makes them an excellent choice for snacks as they pack that signature “cronch” that some dog’s love, without packing on the pounds. Many a vet has recommended green beens as a snack for overweight pets.

Kale

I can barely convince myself to eat kale but my dog seems to enjoy it. Good thing too because kale is a supercharged leafy green with antioxidants, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. It can help your pet detoxify, has anti-inflammatory properties and can even help reduce the occurrence of bladder/kidney stones or disease.

Pea

Peas may be the smallest of the vegetables you will find in your pet’s food, but they come with some excellent nutrition. Peas are packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin B1 and B6, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K. They also contain lutein, an antioxidant that promotes eye, heart, and skin health; and linoleic acid, a fatty acid that helps in skin and fur health. They are low in cholesterol, high in fiber (say hello to solid poops) and are considered a starchy carbohydrate.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin is high in fiber for a healthy digestive tract. It also is low in calories and sodium with Vitamin C, B Vitamins, Calcium, and Potassium.

Rice

Rice is often given to dogs following a digestive upset. However, there are two main types of rice: white and brown. Brown rice and white rice are processed differently, and this processing changes the way rice is digested. Rice is often found as an ingredient in dog food, however, brown rice has a naturally occurring seed coat. This coat makes it more difficult for your dog’s stomach to break down and process.

If your dog is experiencing diarrhea, giving them white rice can help to balance out their intestinal upset. One thing to note, however, is that white rice has a higher glycemic index and can cause a spike in blood sugar. We recommend talking with your vet as to which option, if either, is good for your pet based on their age, weight, breed, and any pre-existing conditions.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A, Vitamin A itself, and Vitamin C. They also contain more antioxidants than blueberries (150% more).


Pet Health Supplements

There are thousands of pet health supplements on the market today and sorting through them is an overwhelming process. What is even more difficult is determining if your pet needs a supplement. For most pets, they visit the vet once a year. But, unfortunately, due to their shorter lifespan issues can arise suddenly and, sometimes, we overlook them. It is an unfortunate side effect of our pets not being able to talk and tell us when something doesn’t feel right or is wrong. Here are some supplement choices and when to consider them, however, always talk with your vet if you are unsure or want them to recommend a product.

Fish Oil Supplement

If your pet experiences issues with dry skin, dandruff or general skin irritation – a fish oil supplement could be an excellent choice. We recommend looking for a supplement that offers fish oil and flaxseed oil. The flaxseed will help prevent further irritation to the skin while the fish oil helps to heal the skin and nourish it.

Hip & Joint Supplement

Adding on a hip & joint supplement can be beneficial to senior pets and can even be helpful for pets that are between youth and senior. For most breeds, 7-years-old is the age in which a dog is considered a senior. However, acting proactively and giving your dog a hip & joint supplement at 5-years-old can help prevent some issues that arise with old age. Many vets recommend this type of supplement for larger breeds, as they are more prone to elbow and hip problems as they age. When looking for a hip & joint supplement we recommend looking for a supplement with the following ingredients: glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and hyaluronic acid. We highly recommend you request a recommendation from your vet as many hip and joint supplements do not contain the proper amount of each of these ingredients.

Probiotic

Many dogs can experience digestive upset. Furthermore, an imbalance of bacteria can lead to bad breath, diarrhea, gas, and bloating. Choosing a probiotic for your dog can be as difficult as it is with choosing one for yourself. However, there is a good rule of thumb to follow: focus on more variety of bacteria and less on quantity of bacteria. Having a larger variety, or more strain variance, is what will do the most benefit. Sometimes, a few strains are the ones that are causing the most imbalance, however, subjecting your pet’s gut to a wider variety will give it a better learned immunity, making it tougher and less likely to be upset.


Are there any pet health issues you want to know more about or topics your would like to recommend? Let us know in the comments below.