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This workshop instalment of Supplements 101 will focus on plant-powered superfoods. Let's start with one of my favourites - Spirulina!
"Spirulina is one of the most complete sources of essential nutrients on the planet and NASA has considered it one of the most important food components in food travel. In addition, it also has the ability to detox and remove impurities from your dog's body." - Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM
What is Spirulina: Spirulina is a rich green powder, belonging to the family "cyanobacteria", which is more often called "blue-green algae." You may have heard warnings about dogs becoming ill from swimming in waters with blue-green algae. Rest assured, the green mineral powder supplement called Spirulina is safe to feed. To learn more about the dangers of blue-green algae blooms in fresh water, click here.
Spirulina is actually not true algae. It is one of the richest source of nutrients in nature, containing up to 60 to 70 percent protein, B-complex vitamins, phycocyanin, chlorophyll, beta-carotene, vitamin E and numerous minerals. It contains all nine of the essential amino acids that dogs require! So what exactly does this mean for your dog's health? It means it is a great addition for most dogs, as a source of antioxidants, to help remove toxins from the blood, boost the immune system, improve energy and a good source of essential fatty acids to encourage cell health and healthy skin & coat!
"Spirulina may be beneficial to dogs with allergic skin conditions, cancer, and heart disease." Dr. Lorelei Wakefield, VMD
How much to give: It is best to follow package guidelines as different brands contain different concentrations. It is safe to use every day but because it’s so nutrient dense, it can cause diarrhea and digestive upset if feeding too much, so start with a low dose and find the right amount for your pet.
Precautions: To be safe, do not give spirulina to dogs with a history of liver disease.
Now, let's talk about Kelp.
What is kelp? Kelp is in the same plants classification as a seaweed. Kelps and seaweeds are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals. You will see kelp very commonly added to quality commercial pet foods, as a natural source of iodine, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Kelp is thought to be the most nutritious of all the edible sea vegetables. There are 60 different vitamins, minerals, and trace elements as well as 21 amino acids found in kelp!
What can all these components of kelp do to help your dog? Kelp can help reduce dental plaque and tartar, maintain ideal amount of iodine - important for gland health (including the thyroid), reduces itchy, dry skin, and helps improve many bodily functions to improve overall health.
How much to give: Many quality pet foods already contain proper levels of kelp for the correct amount of iodine and all the benefits we have already discussed. Additional kelp usually does not need to be added to a commercially-balanced food. If you are feeding a home-prepared diet, kelp will be an essential supplement to ensure the proper amount of iodine, and this depends on the recipe you are feeding, and your dog's needs. To determine your pet's iodine requirement, there is a simple formula: You will multiply their Metabolic Weight by 29.6. To calculate your dog's metabolic weight, follow these steps - you will need a calculator!
1. Using your computer 's calculator, click ‘scientific’ calculator mode (or use a scientific calculator if you have one).
2. Enter your dog’s weight in KILOGRAMS, then click the "x^y" function button.
3. Type in 0.75, then the equal button
4. This number is your dog's metabolic weight.
To determine your dog's iodine requirement, multiply this number by 29.6, and you have your dog's daily iodine requirement in mcgs.
Next, you will need to know the amount of iodine being supplied by the food you are providing, so that you don't over-supplement. For more on how to feed your dog a fresh food diets, I recommend working with a certified nutritionist, or check out the courses and tools available at: https://rawfedandnerdy.com/
Precautions: If you are feeding a commercially-balanced food, adding kelp can create an excess of iodine and lead to hypothyroidism. Kelp is best fed as part of a fresh-food diet that requires additional iodine. See more above.
Finding a good product: When supplementing any of these green superfoods, it is important to consider quality. Poor-quality supplements can contain toxic by-products from production, so certified organic products are best. I like pet-specific formulas - here are some of my favourite green superfood brands that combine some of these superfoods we have talked about above:
- GreenMin: https://peterdobias.com/products/greenmin-for-dogs
- TriMineral Boost: https://bigcountryraw.ca/product/thrive-trimineral-boost-250-grams/
- Spirugreen: https://www.pureformulas.com/spirugreen-superfood-for-pets-180-tablets-by-dr-mercola.html
- GreenMush: https://vecado.ca/products/green-mush-the-ultimate-superfood