Those of you who have been here a while know I went off the deep end last spring over Vito’s intestinal obstruction, and my subsequent research into commercial dog foods. Since that time, I have cooked the meals for those dogs who ate soft food. I remain a hypocrite in that while I shun the factory made soft foods, I still feed commercial kibble. I assure you, if there were fewer than 13 dogs, or at least fewer that require medical maintenance for their special needs, kibble wouldn’t darken our doorway either.
Given the questionable digestibility and nutritional content of ANY dog food, and given the fact that I don’t scientifically calibrate every nutrient or calorie in my home-made foods, I thought it in my best interests to research supplements for those nutrients that could be lacking, or to improve the kids’ ability to digest what they consume.
Unfortunately, my distrust over commercially prepared foods has spilled over into the realm of commercially prepared supplements as well. This means that the supplements I give the kids have to be derived from whole foods or whole ingredients. Turns out, the best supplements for dogs also happen to be great ingredients for home spa treatments. Who would have thunk?
To avoid subjecting the menfolk to ladies’ home spa treatments, I have written the girly stuff in pink. Just skip over those parts if you aren’t interested. The dog supplement information will be in black.
Apple Cider Vinegar has lots of trace elements often missing in commercial and homemade dog foods. Additionally, it helps regulate pH in the digestive tract and helps with nutrient absorption. There are claims that ACV also helps repel fleas, ticks and mosquitos, but there is no documented proof of this.
ACV can be added to food or water, however, it has to be added very slowly, literally a drop at a time, getting your dog used to it gradually, until he can take it at a rate of 1 tablespoon per gallon of water. Another way of adding this supplement would be to add a drop to your dog’s food. For the record, when I say ‘drop’ I am referring to eye dropper drop. Vinegar of all types is pretty powerful stuff. A little dab will do ya.
Some dogs will never take to ACV. Just be ever vigilant and make sure your dog doesn’t stop eating or drinking altogether when you add it.
As long as you’re supplementing your dog with ACV, why not correct your skin’s pH by diluting 1 teaspoon of ACV in a cup of water and using it as an astringent? This mix is also the best and cheapest method of removing surface oils and makeup (except eye makeup, that is) without stripping your skin as well.
Got dandruff? Use lots of hair goop to keep your doo? ACV diluted 1 tablespoon per cup of water, left on for a minute or 2 will remove all build up, cleaning your hair and scalp down to what nature gave you. Honestly, ACV is probably the best ‘shampoo’ you could possible use, and it leaves your hair bouncier and shinier than store-bought shampoos.
Papaya and Pineapple
Both papaya and pineapple contain enzymes that digest proteins. Since we can never be completely sure of the quality of proteins in commercial dog foods, a little help digesting what proteins are available can only help insure our dogs get the maximum benefit from what they’re fed.
Make sure to pick the greenest fruits as the enzymes start to diminish soon after ripening. Actually, you have about a week before the digestive benefits start to decline.
You can either feed in chunks or stick them in a blender to make a smoothie. Use one or use both, the results are the same.
I stick a dinner spoon sized blob (smoothie) in the larger dog’s bowls, and half that amount in the smaller ones, twice a day. I haven’t found anything in the literature that says you can overfeed these protein enzyme powerhouses. At the same time, they are only supplements, so feed in moderation.
While most of the kids at Run A Muck Ranch went right to the papaya, none liked the pineapple at first. I started blending the 2 together in smoothies and pretty soon they would take either, well, all except DASH! that is, but he’s a whole other battle altogether…
But wait you say! My dog couldn’t possibly eat an entire papaya or pineapple in a week! No worries! While you’re cutting up the fruit(s) or scooping out a smoothie for your dog, slather some on your face and neck. Remember, both digest proteins! What exactly are dead skin cells made up of?
You can pay a fortune for spa quality chemical exfoliants, or you can do it cheaper and safer at home with the facial wonder fruits. With repeated use, papaya not only exfoliates and accelerates skin cell turnover, but reduces dark spots. Pineapple evens skin tone and has a slight bleaching effect – bonus for those of us with blotchy skin.
Years ago, when we only had a few dogs, and by a few, I think it was only 6, and I actually had time to comb my hair, I used my ‘fruit smoothies’ regularly and religiously. One of my snowbird clients (only here from November to May) returned one fall and made the comment that I had a new face. It wasn’t from spa treatments, it was papaya.
I hadn’t done it regularly for several years, but then I was surprised to find out that papaya was a great supplement for the dogs. Now, just before I scoop the smoothies into the kids bowl, I slather it on. I’m already starting to see a difference.
Egg Shell Powder is one of the most natural and digestible forms of calcium available. When feeding home-made foods, balancing your calcium to phosphorus correctly can be difficult. Meats usually supply sufficient phosphorus, but if calcium is lacking, phosphorous can’t do it’s job.
Every time you make eggs, save the shells. Freeze them until you have about a dozen. Spread the shells on a cookie sheet and bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours (or if you have a dehydrator, go at 160 degrees for 3 hours). Once the shells have been dehydrated, break out the coffee grinder and grind the shells until they are a fine powder. DO NOT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE I DID! Don’t get the freshly ground shells too close to your nose or you will be sneezing for hours! Once the dust settles there’s no problem, but just out of the grinder, beware!
Sprinkle over dog food (1/4 teaspoon for small, 1/2 teaspoon for medium, 1 teaspoon for large dogs) and you have your calcium requirements for the day.
Hey, if you want to pay a fortune for dermabrasion, feel free, however, you can get the very same effect using eggshell powder. The sensitivity of your skin will determine how much powder to use. Put a little in your hand, add a little water to make it less powdery, and start scrubbing (how hard you scrub also depends on skin sensitivity). It takes a little practice to get the water to powder ratio correct, but once you get it, I guarantee you will feel a difference in your skin the very first time you use it.
Every one knows about the wonderful probiotic power of Yogurt. It’s not just good for humans, dogs can reap the benefits as well. Just be sure to use plain, unflavored yogurt, and make sure it contains live yogurt cultures. It appears there are as many opinions as to how much to feed a dog as there are people who have written books. I have resorted to scooping ‘a little’ into the small dogs’ bowls, and around a 1/2 cup into the larger dogs’ bowls, once a day. Yogurt has the same lactic acid contained in milk, and like people some dogs can be lactose intolerant, so start with a smidge and work up depending on how your dog reacts.
Since he’s been on yogurt, though Slugger remains gassy (It’s part of Slugger being Slugger), he isn’t as toxic as he was before. If I miss a few days, pity the person standing in Slugger’s vicinity when he goes off…
Especially for those with sensitive skin, Yogurt is a gentle exfoliant with some bleaching properties. Additionally, if you went a little too heavy with the pineapple, papaya or egg-shell powder, and are left with irritated skin (or even if you have sunburn….), Yogurt will make things right. Just slather it on and your skin shall be soothed. The fats in yogurt, even those in low-fat yogurt, are most excellent moisturizers for dry skin as well. Try to find a moisturizing exfoliant on the store shelves… you won’t find one. A word of warning, however, where you can wander about with a face smeared with papaya or pineapple, yogurt gets a little drippy, so sit still until you are ready to rinse it off.
These are just a few of the gems I have come up with so far. I’m still researching nutrition and supplements for the dogs, and who knows, maybe I’ll find a dog supplement that will clean house or do laundry in the future. What I’d really like is one that does foot rubs…