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Heating and Cooling Dog Foods: Balancing Your Dog's Energy to Improve Their Health

Heating and Cooling Dog Foods: Balancing Your Dog's Energy to Improve Their Health

As a veterinarian, science is one of my most useful tools in helping care for and treat pets, both my patients’ pets and my own.  But as a scientist, I also have to acknowledge that science doesn’t have all the answers.  It offers many answers, and those answers are good ones, but any scientist worth the title can tell you that there is more that we don’t understand about biology, biochemistry, and medicine, than we have learned about those subjects through science.

I was just a young student in veterinary school when my own childhood dog, a sweet rescue mutt, fell sick.  Over the course of a few weeks, his appetite decreased until he was barely eating, and he seemed to have no energy at all.  After a variety of tests and treatments, my veterinarian was still stumped, and even my colleagues and professors couldn’t come up with any suggestions that helped.  My dog was slowly dying, and despite all the scientific resources at my disposal, no one seemed to know why - it was a devastating position for a young veterinarian to find themselves in.

It was only after, in desperation, I tried consulting a Chinese herbalist, that my poor pup’s health turned around.  After a lengthy physical examination, the herbalist suggested a prescription of simple natural foods and herbs, like lamb and ginger.  I was skeptical, but to my surprise, after a couple of short weeks on this home-cooked diet, my beloved dog was practically his old self again.

This experience taught me two valuable lessons: Nutrition is one of the single most important factors in pet health; and just because science hasn’t yet figured out how to explain why something works, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work.

That is the reason that in my veterinary practice, I often blend solutions based on Chinese medicine and other holistic care practices with traditional western medical care.  And time after time, my patients see huge improvements that they just don’t achieve through contemporary medicine alone.

One common recommendation I make involves the use of heating or cooling foods.  In traditional Chinese medicine, life energy maintains a natural balance between yin (cold) and yang (hot).  When this energy is out of balance, it can manifest in a variety of health problems – and quite often, this is due to an imbalanced diet.

According to TCM practitioners, a dog with cold energy will often be physically cold to the touch.  You’ll often find them seeking out warm patches of sun, a spot near the fireplace or heater, or extra snuggles to balance out that internal chilliness.  They will suffer from problems like stiffness, lethargy, and incontinence issues.  If your dog is displaying these characteristics, feeding a warming diet may help reduce these symptoms.

Conversely, a dog with hot energy will often feel overheated.  These dogs avoid warmth, preferring to lay down on a cold floor or spot in the shade, and will often pant to dispel excess body heat.  Health problems associated with excess hot energy are inflammation, allergies, restlessness, and anxiety.  A cooling diet may be an effective solution for a dog which is suffering from these types of problems.

While all foods have a heating, cooling, or neutral effect, since dogs eat such a meat-rich diet, usually just selecting a food with the right protein source can balance out your dog’s own natural energy.  Here’s a list of some of the more common heating and cooling proteins I recommend:

Warming proteins:
Chicken
Turkey
Lamb
Venison
Anchovies

Cooling proteins:
Duck
Rabbit
Pollock
Whitefish


While many dogs can benefit from a heating or cooling diet, I most often recommend this for dogs suffering from allergy problems, which often have their root in diet already.  Many, many dogs I’ve treated for allergies and hot spots have seen great improvements after switching to a simple diet which primarily uses duck, rabbit, pollock, and/or whitefish as its protein source.  And don’t forget the treats, too!

In fact, because so many treats contain chicken or other warming proteins, that’s one of the reasons that, when I helped Canine Sciences create their Nutrient Heaven freeze-dried treats, we selected duck as the sole meat source.  Duck, which is the primary ingredient and makes up about 90% of each Nutrient Heaven treat, is a classic cooling protein that is rich in essential nutrients and rarely triggers dog allergies.

Wishing you and your dog the best of health,



Dr. Edward Tuk

--

Our Nutrient Heaven premium freeze-dried treats are an excellent complement to a cooling diet used to holistically address problems like allergies or inflammation.  Click on one of the products below to learn more!


Nutrient Heaven Freeze-Dried Duck Delight Treats



Naturally Scrumptious Freeze-Dried Raw Turkey & Salmon Feast


Radiant Canine Full-Spectrum Dog Nutritional Supplement






Can Dogs Eat Berries?

Can Dogs Eat Berries?

Dogs are, of course, big meat-eaters.  Protein is very important for the healthy function of their bodies, and should make up most of their diet.  So berries aren't always an obvious snack for our dogs - but they absolutely should be!

Despite their mostly-meat diet, dogs aren't actually carnivores, but omnivores like us humans, so they can get nutrition from a variety of sources, not just prey animals.  In nature, the wild dogs and wolves from which our domesticated pups descended eat mostly prey animals, yes, but they also often seek out and eat grasses, roots, and especially the subject of this article: 

BERRIES!

As it turns out, berries are a fantastic snack that many dogs absolutely love!  Just about every dog would benefit from the addition of berries to their diet. In fact, that berry-seeking behavior that wild dogs display is the source of our domesticated dogs' sweet tooth. 

Most berries are considered superfoods, meaning they are especially nutrient-dense and contain a lot more unique vitamins and minerals than other foods.  That's what makes them a great addition to a meat-rich dog diet, since they offer a whole lot of concentrated nutrition in a very small, low-calorie package!

You may notice berries showing up in the ingredients of some dog foods and treats. Keep in mind that dog foods like kibble and canned food are heavily cooked, exposing them to heat and pressure which destroys a lot of the nutrition naturally present in those ingredients. So the inclusion of berries in kibble and other processed foods is more about marketing than about nutrition.
Ideally, berries should be served to your dog fresh, frozen, or freeze-dried raw, since that protects both the tasty flavor and vital nutrition of these awesome superfoods. (That’s how we include berries in our own freeze-dried Naturally Scrumptious diet and Nutrient Heaven treats.)

And never use canned berries, like pie fillers, as they are drenched in sugar that is just downright bad for dogs!

Note that though the natural sugar present in berries is much healthier than the yucky processed kind, make sure you practice moderation and don't go overboard - in general, treats and snacks should represent no more than 10% of your dog's daily food intake, and that includes the healthy snacks too.

So which berries can dogs eat, and what makes them so healthy?

Can dogs eat blueberries?

Blueberries are a great snack for dogs!

They're chock full of all kinds of nutritional benefits - anti-oxidants and vitamin C that help boost immune health and reduce inflammation, as well as lots of fiber to help with digestion.

That said, compared to other berry types, blueberries are pretty high in sugar, so when I feed them to my dogs, I usually only give them a little at a time mixed in with other berries that don't contain quite as much sugar.

Can dogs eat strawberries?

Dogs can absolutely eat strawberries, and they're very good for them too! 

Not only that, but strawberries also contain an especially high concentration of the sweet-smelling compounds that dogs' scent and taste organs evolved to crave, which is why strawberries are such a big hit with dogs!  Many pickier dogs that don't normally like to eat sweet things will make an exception for strawberries.

Like most berries, strawberries are very rich in anti-oxidants, fiber, and vitamin C, and also contain high amounts of other essential vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium, and folic acid.

And they're one of the healthiest berries too, with about half the sugar, calories, and carbs of blueberries!

Can dogs eat raspberries?

Raspberries are good for your dog, as long as they are fed in moderation. 

They do contain lots of nutritional benefits, vitamins, and minerals common to other berries, like immune-boosting anti-oxidants, but compared to other berries, are a bit on the sugary side.

Additionally, raspberries contain one of the highest natural concentrations of xylitol, a natural compound commonly used as a sugar substitute which can be harmful to dogs in large amounts. 

So don’t go overboard with the raspberries – just feed a few at a time!

Can dogs eat blackberries?

They sure can - and in fact, blackberries are one of my personal favorite berries to feed dogs!

As a general rule, the darker a berry is, the more nutrition it contains, and blackberries are no exception.  They're one of the most nutritionally dense fruits your dog can eat!

Not only do blackberries contain those same immune-boosting and digestive benefits as their other berry counterparts, they've got way more B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, niacin, and a whole boatload of other vitamins and minerals than just about any other berry!

And your dog gets all of those nutritional benefits with very little of the unhealthy stuff, too - a serving of blackberries contains about half the sugar and 3/4 of the calories as the same amount of blueberries.

That's exactly why I chose blackberries as one of the four ingredients in our Nutrient Heaven dog treats!

Are there any berries my dog can't eat?

Most of the berries which are toxic to dogs aren't eaten by humans either, like juniper berries, holly berries, or mistletoe, so if a berry is in your supermarket’s produce section, it's probably okay for your pup.

Certain parts of the cherry contain compounds which are toxic to dogs, so cherries should not be fed to your dog.  And in general, any berry or fruit with a hard pit should be avoided, as these pits can become a choking hazard.

Grapes are also a no-no for dogs.  Though scientists are not sure exactly why, grapes are bad for dogs and cause a negative reaction involving lethargy, vomiting, decreased appetite, and increased thirst and urination.

Here's a super fun recipe for an easy berry snack that's tasty and nutritious for both dogs and humans, especially on a warm day!

Yogurt and Berry Crunch Bites
Mix equal parts of the berries of your choice (diced if you're using strawberries, halved or whole for smaller berries) with plain yogurt, portion into a mold or ice tray, and then freeze overnight for tasty, sweet mouthful that's healthy and delicious!  

Wishing you and your dog the best of health,



Dr. Edward Tuk

--

The veterinarians who formulate Canine Sciences' products are big believers in the nutritional powers of superfoods!  Our Naturally Scrumptious complete dog diet includes strawberries, and our Nutrient Heaven treats contain delicious, healthy blackberries, all freeze-dried to protect their natural nutrients and flavor.  Click on one of the products below to learn more!


Nutrient Heaven Freeze-Dried Duck Delight Treats



Naturally Scrumptious Freeze-Dried Raw Turkey & Salmon Feast


Radiant Canine Full-Spectrum Dog Nutritional Supplement

The Secrets of Canine Joint Pain

The Secrets of Canine Joint Pain

Dogs, like humans, are all likely to suffer achy bones and joints eventually.  It's all part of aging for both of our species. 

The signs of joint pain in dogs are not always obvious at first, because dogs, like many animals, evolved to hide their pain and discomfort to feel safe from predators and still look tough for the rest of their pack.  By the time your dog starts limping, or just seems more reluctant to get out of their bed, chances are, they've been feeling off for some time already.

If not prevented outright or identified early, these problems can lead to significant pain, discomfort, and mobility problems.  Worse, dogs who suffer from joint pain may avoid essential exercise, leading to a variety of other health issues.

Fortunately, there are steps any dog owner can take to prevent joint problems from developing, or to treat joint pain once it occurs.

What causes joint pain in dogs?

There are two types of joint problems in dogs: developmental, where the bones and joints grow incorrectly during puppyhood, and degenerative, which is caused by overuse, injury, and wear-and-tear over a long period of time.

Developmental joint pain is hereditary in nature, and it is most likely to affect certain breeds of dogs, primarily large breeds (60+ pounds as adults). 

These problems start during puppyhood when the bones of the legs and hips experience growth spurts and increase rapidly in size, out of sync with other parts of the skeletal system. 

Hip and elbow dysplasia, where the ball and socket of the joint don't quite fit together correctly, are the most common types of canine developmental joint problems.

Degenerative joint issues, on the other hand, are what happens when the materials of your dog's joints are damaged by wear and tear and/or external forces. This is the type of joint disease that typically begins later in life.

Arthritis, for example, the most commonly seen degenerative joint disease, occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the cartilage present in the joints, inhibiting function and causing inflammation.

What can I do to prevent dog joint pain?

The most important components of preventing developmental joint pain in dogs are their diet and exercise during puppyhood. 

You may have seen special large breed puppy foods at the pet store - these diets are specifically designed with only moderate amounts of calcium and other building blocks of healthy bones, to keep their young bones from growing too quickly and throwing the rest of their skeletomuscular system out of whack.

Keeping your puppy from putting on too much extra weight is important as well, since every extra pound they're carrying is another pound of weight on their already delicate joints.

Regular exercise is also important to make sure your puppy's joints develop full healthy function; however, you also don't want to overdo it, because that can itself contribute to joint problems!  So exercise your puppy frequently, but keep those activities relatively short and not too strenuous, at least until they're through their growth spurts.  

It can feel a little overwhelming to balance all of these correctly, and every puppy is a little different, but don't be intimidated!  Your veterinarian is there to help you work out a specific diet and exercise gameplan for your large breed puppy that should provide all the nutrition and exertion they need to grow strong and healthy, while taking into account the healthy development of their joints.

Once degenerative joint disease begins, there's unfortunately very little that can be done to reverse it - the symptoms can be managed, but the damage itself is rarely undone.

That's why I tell all my patients the same thing: the best treatment is always prevention.

For example, excess weight plays a part in an overwhelming number of arthritis cases.  While weight and arthritis aren't directly linked, heavier dogs' joints suffer more and faster wear-and-tear, so overweight dogs tend to develop joint pain much earlier in life.

Additionally, carbohydrates, often found in high amounts in the diets of overweight pooches, can increase the body's own natural inflammatory response, so that their joints are even more swollen than they might otherwise have been once joint problems develop.

So, in other words, the closer your dog is to their ideal weight as they get older, and the higher-quality and lower-carb their food is, the less likely they are to develop joint disease, and the longer it will take for their symptoms to progress if and when those problems do show up.

Giving those joints regular workouts also keeps them functioning smoothly.  Don't let your older dog become a couch potato - make sure your walks are regular, and always reward your dog for keeping up!

What can be done to help with dog joint pain at home?

Of course, your veterinarian can and should recommend specific treatments for your dog's joint pain, but in general, there are a few natural ways to help with dog joint problems.

If your dog starts to show signs of joint pain, or if they're getting a little older and you'd like to take some preventative steps before those problems develop, I strongly recommend supplementing their diet with some joint health compounds. 

Different dogs react differently, so you may need to experiment a bit to find the right combination, but I've known many dogs who have been helped with the right ingredients.

Glucosamine is a commonly used joint supplement, which both acts as a mild anti-inflammatory, and is used in the production of cartilage, and chondroitin, often included with glucosamine, works to protect cartilage from destruction. Natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin include animal cartilage like beef trachea or chicken feet, as well as shellfish.

Collagen is believed by many veterinarians to help lubricate the joints to provide smooth, pain-free function - and it's great for the skin and coat, too!  Raw bones, beef tendons, and bone broth are all great natural sources of collagen for dogs.

Finally, omega fatty acids help to regulate inflammation, so they may be useful in managing the pain of joint dysfunction.  Fish meat, fish oil, and flaxseed is commonly used to provide a shot of omegas to dog diets.

Unfortunately, there may also come a time when your dog just needs a little extra help getting around or jumping up on to the couch.  I recommend investing in a sturdy harness with a grab handle on the back for this purpose, so you can steady them and provide a little bit of lift, but they're still doing most of the work.  That's a good way to help your dog get around, but allow them to get the benefits of exercise.

Though achy joints are a natural part of life, there's no reason they have to stop your dog from living their life!

Wishing you and your dog the best of health,



Dr. Edward Tuk
--

Canine Sciences is your partner in maximizing your dog’s health!  Our Radiant Canine Full-Spectrum Nutritional Supplement contains several joint health and anti-inflammatory ingredients like glucosamine, collagen, fish oil, and more.  Click on one of the products below to find out more about our veterinarian-designed dog food, treats, and supplements.

 


Nutrient Heaven Freeze-Dried Duck Delight Treats



Naturally Scrumptious Freeze-Dried Raw Turkey & Salmon Feast


Radiant Canine Full-Spectrum Dog Nutritional Supplement