This is a difficult subject because, there is no "one size fits all" diet for our pets, or people.  There are many variables. 

Things to add to your pets diet to enhance the food.

1.  Sardines – you can get raw, canned, dehydrated, freeze dried or fresh.  Sardines have important trace minerals like Manganese, Iodine, Zinc, Copper, plus the important EPA-DHA and Omega 3.  I believe that most dog/cat foods will benefit with the addition of Sardines.  Its easy 1 can of spring water or olive oil based sardines split up 2 times a week (50 lb dog).

2.  Collagen or Bone Broth (helps add more liquid also)

Collagen is loaded with Amino Acids, Collagen and collagen-rich substances like bone broth can help soothe and repair the gut lining, improving leaky gut and other problems triggered by that problematic state of your pet’s digestive system.  Can help with joint pain, skin and coat, digestion.  Amino Acids and proteins are the building blocks of life.

 (Nature’s Logic has powdered Bone Broth(Beef, Pork, Turkey, Chicken) Honest Kitchen (Chicken) – Primal has Frozen Bone Broth (Beef, Pork, Turkey, Chicken) Answers has Frozen Bone Broth ( Turkey, Fish) If you have a dog with joint issues, I usually recommend Pork because it is higher in Glucosamine & Chondroitin.  It’s easy to make your own bone broth, there are tons of recipes online just make sure you don’t use items that dogs/cats can’t have.

With any of the Bone broths it’s easy to make it more functional by addition of herbs, or other healthy products.  Primal has just come out with a product called Elixir which is a bone broth base with the addition of aromatic whole food toppers that can be added to any pet food meal The different flavors have functional ingredients that help to support healthy digestive tracts, immune systems, and joints.

3. Whole food vitamins.

This category is a bit difficult because if you are feeding a kibble (and some raw), you really don’t want to add any synthetic vitamins because most kibbles (and some raw) already have synthetic supplements so if you add another synthetic supplement it could cause problems in your pet.  So this is where adding a Whole food supplement is the best because if the pet doesn’t need the vitamin they just eliminate it like a food, where if it’s a synthetic the pet’s body treats it like a toxin.  So Nature’s Logic has a dried whole food supplement called Food Fortifier it comes in Beef and Chicken.  Earth animal has a dried whole food supplement called Daily Raw.  Green JuJu has Frozen Functional Veggies for Joints, Skin, Immunity and Digestion.  Northwest Naturals has Frozen Veggie Cubes.  You can easily make your own “ice cube” veggies by grinding up (your choice) veggies and freezing in ice cube trays.

4.  Goat Milk

Goat Milk is considered the “universal milk” it is high is many important micronutrients, including calcium, phosphorus and riboflavin, minerals, electrolytes, trace elements, enzymes plus heart-healthy fats and protein.  They are easily absorbed plus add needed liquid to all dog/cat food.   There are easy “treat” ways to get digestive enzymes also Answers has Goat milk cheese that has 1 billion probiotics per treat for only 19 calories.  And now they have Cow Milk Kefir treats that help with fleas and ticks.

5. Herbs

Because our pets are exposed to so many different chemicals and pollutions on a daily basis I believe it’s important to keep their liver functioning at a high clean level.  You can do this a few ways, have them do a liver cleanse 4 times a year or rotate through herbs throughout the year.  Doing a liver cleanse 4 times a year is basically the same except you would be using a larger quantity of herbs at a time.  So say you have a 50# dog and you are doing one of the 4 cleanses you would start with approx. 2 tsp (broke up into meals) of one of the following Milk Thistle, Dandelion, Burdock, Red clover.  I personally think its best if you only do one week of each, so one week of Milk Thistle, one week of Dandelion one week of Burdock, one week of Red Clover then repeat. Usually the 4 a year detox lasts 45 days.  If you decide to do the protocol year round (what I do) then add one ½ teaspoon per 25 lbs. rotating through the above herbs each week. 

6. Egg

With eggs I only recommend Organic free range eggs they are the most complete food, they are a great bioavailable source of protein and high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats. If feeding daily be sure to feed the whole egg (including the shell) or just the yolk to avoid any nutritional issues that might be caused by feeding the white of the egg alone.  Remember to include this in the calorie count as eggs have approx. 70 calories.

7. Fermented food

This is important because it helps with digestion and keeping the gut in working order.  This would include any of the Answers products since all of their products are fermented.  But it can be as easy as purchasing from the grocery store or health food store raw sauerkraut, fermented vegetables.  Or you can make your own, a little goes a long way you only feed about 1 Tablespoon for a 50 lb dog. As with all fermentation the bacteria not only create new nutrients, enzymes and organic acids, but they also become an extremely effective probiotic for your dog.

8.  Misc. other things that are important to incorporate.

Green Tripe and Organ meats (liver, spleen, bladder, kidney, brain, thymus) if you can get a mixture of some or all of these they are the “missing piece” in my opinion for all dogs.  I don’t have heart listed because heart is an organ they use as a meat source since it’s considered a muscle.    Bones are very important also because they help with the instinctual ripping and tearing action that dogs and cats have, plus it helps keep their teeth clean, and keeps them from getting bored.   Kelp (for iodine), Blueberries (antioxidants), red peppers, spinach, various greens.  So we have to remember that dogs and cats are still the same as their wild counterpart, and I know that a lot of people only want to feed the “prey” model to their pets, but to truly feed prey you would have to let your pet - hunt – not eat for a few days – and let them have the whole animal.  So sometimes they would be eating bark, berries, grass, stomach content (which would be fermented), brain, fur, etc.  Since we pretty much hold them captive we have to make sure they are getting a complete diet with all the extra antioxidants, vitamins, minerals that if they were wild they would seek out and eat.

In closing remember every dog or cat is different and should be fed as an individual, they may require more specific nutrients because of their species, age, health, activity level.  Also remember you can’t feed just Chicken thighs and expect a healthy dog/cat, that would in no way be complete and you would have a very sick animal.

Please note, I am not a veterinarian, part of a veterinary group, or veterinary nutritionist. I am an independent Pet Nutrition Specialist/Advisor, a Certified Herbalist.   Always consult with your veterinarian when making changes that affect your dog’s health. The information in this blog post or Pet Supplies ‘N’ More is not intended to diagnose, prognosis, treat, correct, change, alleviate, or prevent animal disease, illness, pain, deformity, defect, injury, or other physical, dental, or mental conditions.

My name is Paula Gorman and I am a Pet Nutrition Specialist, Herbalist.  I am an employee of Pet Supplies ‘N’ More in Muskego WI and have been advising pet owners on diet for over 20 years.  I have studied hours upon hours of canine nutrition for my own dog’s sake, and for those that shop at Pet Supplies ‘N’ More.   These are my opinions and are not necessarily the owners of Pet Supplies ‘N’ More.