Grain-Free Dog Diet Is Not Always The Best Choice

Study: Grain-Free Diet for Dogs Leads to Canine Heart Disease

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Belgian Malinois Diet

University of California, Davis, veterinarians led a team that has found a link between some popular grain-free, legume-rich dog diets and a type of nutritional deficiency and canine heart disease known as taurine-deficient dilated cardiomyopathy. The study was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Researchers found dogs eating some of these “boutique” diets are not making or maintaining enough taurine, an amino acid important for heart health. Taurine deficiency has been known for many years to lead to dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM, a heart muscle disorder that can lead to congestive heart failure and death.

“I was surprised by how similar the diets being fed to the affected dogs were,” says lead author Joshua Stern, a veterinary cardiologist and geneticist at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “I was shocked to see so many cases with this condition in such a short period of time.”

Stern says the research was prompted by the surge in cases at UC Davis. “This is a condition that was previously rarely seen in our busy clinic,” he says. “What we would really like to do is spread awareness of this issue. We have seen a great number of affected animals. Given that this is a reversible form of this devastating disease, we really want to ensure that veterinarians can recognize the risk and treat it expediently when needed.”

Stern says choosing “a well-researched dog food that has a healthy nutrient profile backed by expert formulation and research is of paramount importance.”

The Culprit: “Boutique” Pet Foods

Pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients, are what’s being linked to DCM, which leads to reduced heart pumping function and increased heart size. The alterations in heart function and structure can result in severe consequences such as congestive heart failure or sudden cardiac death. While the most common cause of DCM is genetic, on rare occasions other factors can also result in the condition, particularly in breeds that are not frequently affected.

Stern says the disease is now showing up unexpectedly in other breeds, such as the golden retriever. The common link unifying these cases is their diets. He began noticing the trend two years ago — while treating many dogs with nutritionally mediated DCM he realized that they were all eating similar diets. Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an alert to pet owners and veterinarians about the potential association between the diets, which have become quite trendy, and DCM. The FDA continues to research this issue in an effort to help identify the exact dietary factor causing the problem.

Study Looked at Golden Retrievers

Stern’s research involved 24 golden retrievers with dilated cardiomyopathy and a documented taurine deficiency. Twenty-three of the 24 dogs diagnosed with DCM had also been fed diets that were either grain-free, legume-rich or a combination.

“The study was a clinical study looking at affected dogs and their response to therapy,” explains Stern. “The published study included 24 golden retrievers, which represents the largest collection of taurine-deficient DCM cases in the literature.”

Stern prescribed the dogs a diet change and added a taurine supplement to their diet. All but one dog showed improvement. Nine of 11 dogs in this group — including Suva pictured above — had the most advanced stage of the disease, congestive heart failure. These dogs also showed dramatic improvements or no longer had congestion, says Stern.

Recommendations to Give Clients

Stern said veterinarians should educate clients about their dogs’ diet. He also cautions that dogs can develop DCM from nutritional origins and not be taurine-deficient. Taurine supplements can also mask the problem and lead to a delay of an important diagnosis.

But when the problem is related to taurine deficiency, says Stern, it may not be that the diet is “grain-free” or “legume-heavy” but that ingredients are interacting to reduce availability of taurine or that other nutrients are missing or interacting in the formulation.

For example, while a lot of pet owners may not want to see “byproducts” in their dog’s food, often the byproducts contain organ meat like heart and kidney, which are good sources of taurine.

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Belgian Malinois Diet

5 Benefits Of Cinnamon and Pumpkin For Dogs

Pumpkin spice is a huge hit, especially in the fall. And it’s no surprise – it tastes delicious.

But while these seasonal treats are safe for you to consume … they’re not so good for your dog.

Pumpkin spice is usually made up of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom. Out of this list, only one spice is safe for dogs – cinnamon.

But that doesn’t mean that your dog has to completely miss out on pumpkin spice! In fact, you can make pumpkin a regular part of her year-round diet.

When paired with cinnamon, these two ingredients can provide many benefits! 

Let’s take a look 5 reasons you should share cinnamon and pumpkin with your dogs.

Benefits Of Pumpkin For Dogs

Pumpkin is a nutritious addition to your dog’s dish. It’s a good source of:

Pumpkin also contains antioxidants.

Antioxidants help your dog stay healthy by scavenging free radicals.

Free radicals are unstable electrons that damage your dog’s healthy cells. This damage can lead to premature aging, cancer and chronic disease.

Beta-carotene and zeaxanthin are two of the antioxidants found in pumpkin. Both are plant pigments called carotenoids.

Beta-carotene converts into vitamin A in your dog’s body and helps …

  • Support healthy skin, coat, muscles and nerves

  • Improve vision

  • Boost the immune system

  • Improve brain function

  • Prevent cancer

Zeaxanthin is especially beneficial for your dog’s eyes. It’s one of the only dietary carotenoids that can fight free radicals in the retina. It can also protect your dog’s eyes from light damage.

Zeaxanthin can also help …

And this isn’t all pumpkin is good for. Here are other ways pumpkin can help keep your dog healthy …

1. Beneficial To General Health

Because pumpkin contains so many nutritious ingredients, it can help support your dog’s overall health.

You can feed your dog 1/3 to 1/2 cup of raw or cooked pumpkin daily. This will provide ample fiber and nutrients to help keep your dog in peak health.

2. Soothes Digestive Issues

Studies show that pumpkin is good for all sorts of digestive issues. It’s soothing on your dog’s system and easy to digest.

Does your dog have diarrhea? Give her pumpkin. The soluble fiber in pumpkin helps solidify runny stool because it absorbs water.

Does she have constipation issues? Pumpkin can also help loosen things up.

For a medium-sized dog, add 1 to 4 tbsp of canned pumpkin to food for a few days until the issue resolves.

RELATED: How To Stop Diarrhea: 4 Simple Steps

3. Helps With Intestinal Worms

The most surprising benefit is in the seeds, which Native Americans regarded as a sacred food. Fed raw or toasted, pumpkin seeds will help rid your dog of intestinal worms.

Feed her a 1/2 tsp per 20 pounds of body weight twice a day, until you no longer see worms or eggs in her stool.

RELATED: Our Top Home Remedies For Worms In Dogs

Feeding Pumpkin to Your Dog

Both fresh and canned pumpkin are good choices. Canned pumpkin has more fiber and nutrients than fresh. This is mainly because fresh pumpkin has a higher water content. Canned is also easier and you can get it all year long.

Feed only pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling!

Canned pumpkin with added salt, spices, sugar, or other additives can irritate your dog’s stomach. This counteracts the beneficial effects of the pumpkin. It can also contain xylitol which is deadly to your dog.

These are 3 fabulous reasons to add pumpkin to your dog’s diet. But let’s not forget about cinnamon! 

Benefits Of Cinnamon For Dogs

Cinnamon comes in two popular varieties, Ceylon and Cassia. 

  • Ceylon cinnamon is light in color and sweet in taste. It’s also expensive and difficult to find. 

  • Cassia cinnamon is what you find in every grocery store. Darker in color and with a stronger flavor, this variety is easier to grow and thus cheaper to buy. But because of the coumarin in Cassia cinnamon, it’s only ok to feed to dogs in small amounts. Do not feed it yo your dog for an extended period of time.

Ceylon cinnamon is the best choice of cinnamon for your dog.

1. Maintain A Healthy Weight

Did you know that 54 percent of all dogs in America struggle with obesity?

Over the last 12 years, we’ve also seen a 79 percent rise in diabetes!

If your dog has diabetes then you should definitely add cinnamon to her diet. Adding 1/8 tsp per 15 pounds of body weight to her diet each day is a standard and safe amount. This will help regulate her blood sugar.

2. Helps With Arthritis Relief

Have a dog who’s in her golden years?

As our pets age, arthritis becomes a potential problem that can affect their mobility. But there’s no need for your dog to struggle and suffer when you have cinnamon in your kitchen!

The anti-inflammatory properties in cinnamon can help manage joint pain and reduce swelling. It’s recommended by many to mix a 1/2 tsp of cinnamon in 1 tbsp of honey for a medium-sized dog.

Feeding Cinnamon To Your Dog

Cinnamon is a wonderful herb to use for dogs but … there are a couple of cautions:

  • Don’t feed cinnamon to pregnant dogs. It can have a stimulating effect on the uterus. 

  • Don’t give your dog a cinnamon stick to chew on. 

The combination of pumpkin and cinnamon spice has incredible benefits for your dog! With only two ingredients you can do so much to help your pet live her best and healthiest life.

It’s easy to add both of these to your dog’s diet. You can even use these ingredients to make a treat for special occasions (so, every day).

Raw Pumpkin Spice Dog Treats

Here’s what you need:

  • 3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin

  • 1 tbsp raw honey

  • 2 tsp cinnamon

  • 4 cups almond flour (add more if needed)

  • 1/4 tsp salt

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, adding more flour if necessary, until it forms a soft dough. Roll the dough into balls that are the right size for your dog, and then refrigerate.

That’s it! Store these treats in the fridge for one week or freeze for up to six months.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Eggs?

Belgian Malinois Nutrition

It seems the poor egg is often dragged through the mud as a dangerous food for dogs. But is it?

Some say that eggs are too high in cholesterol … or they worry that they pose a risk of salmonella and will cause a biotin deficiency.

To that, I say nonsense!

Eggs are a cheap and safe source of raw food for your dog. And they’re one of the most complete and nutritious meals you can choose!

 

So let’s look at why dogs can and should eat eggs.

The Truth About Feeding Eggs To Dogs

I wanted to share with you some of the most common concerns and the health benefits of feeding your dog eggs. That way you can feel confident that you’re boosting your dog’s health when he eats eggs.

Eggs Are A Complete Food Source

Eggs are an important source of nutrition and not only for those who eat them but also for the chick living inside it. Eggs contain all the nutrients necessary to grow a new chicken.  

And this is why eggs are also one of the most complete sources of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. So letting your dog eat eggs is a great way to boost his protein intake.

Eggs Provide Nutrients, Vitamins, And Minerals

Eggs aren’t just a great source of protein. Feeding eggs to your dog is an easy way to offer him a range of nutrition support. They provide many key nutrition components including:

  • Vitamin A

  • Riboflavin

  • Folate

  • Vitamin B12

  • Iron

  • Selenium

  • Fatty Acids

Egg Whites Contain Enzyme Inhibitors

One of the reasons people question whether their dogs can eat eggs is because of the egg whites. Egg whites contain enzyme inhibitors. And the concern is that they can interfere with digestion, especially in very young and old animals.

This is true, but it only means that eggs should not be the mainstay of your dog’s diet. If you are feeding a well balanced fresh diet you won’t be putting him at risk.

In fact, the average dog can eat several eggs a week and be perfectly safe. You can start by feeding your dog just one egg. If you don’t see evidence of digestive upset, then he should have no trouble with eggs as part of his regular diet.

Cooking the egg white will help to avoid this problem … but most of the nutrition will get cooked out. So feed them raw if you can.

Does Feeding Egg Whites Cause Biotin Deficiency In Dogs?

Biotin is one of the B vitamins. It’s important for your dog’s cellular growth, fatty acid metabolism, and his healthy skin and coat.

Egg whites contain avidin, a biotin inhibitor. But biotin deficiencies are quite rare in dogs. And it would take eating an extraordinary amount of eggs to create a deficiency.

Egg yolks are very high in biotin, so as long as you feed the entire egg, there are few worries. When you feed a complete fresh diet there are other good sources of biotin in his diet as well. The liver is a particularly good source.

Again, you can get rid of this possible risk by cooking the egg white but your dog will lose much of the nutritional value.  

Aren’t Eggs A Salmonella Risk?

Your dog is actually well equipped to handle the bacteria in raw foods. But there are a few things you want to consider when choosing your eggs to keep the bacterial levels at a normal level.

The health of the hen laying the eggs is very important. Ideally you want to your dog to eat eggs from organic, free-range healthy chickens.

Feeding quality eggs along with proper storage and keeping the eggs cool, will keep bacteria at a manageable level.

Can Dogs Eat Eggshells? 

Yes, your dog can eat eggshells. In fact, feeding your dog a whole cracked egg with the shell is a nearly complete food source. They have almost all the amino acids your dog needs to stay healthy. And whole eggs are also a balanced source of calcium and phosphorus, which your dog needs to grow healthy bones and teeth. 

Eggshells also have a thin membrane on the inside that’s incredibly beneficial to your dog. Eggshell membranes are full of …

This makes it a great choice for arthritic dogs. In a 2016 study, eggshell membranes significantly reduced joint pain in 51 dogs with varying joint issues. 

While you can peel off the membrane and feed it to your dog directly, it’s much easier to feed the whole egg. You can also buy supplements with eggshell membrane as well. 

Eggshells can also be valuable for dogs who have difficulty eating bones. Just dry your eggshells out then grind them in a clean coffee grinder until they’re powdered. You can then sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of powder on your dog’s next meal to boost the calcium. 

Can Puppies Eat Eggshells? 

Eggshells are safe for puppies to eat but they aren’t a good source of calcium for puppies. Puppies need lots of calcium in their diets to build strong bones. But the calcium in shells is calcium carbonate, which dogs don’t absorb well. Eggshell powder is also missing magnesium and phosphorus. 

Fresh raw bone is the best source of calcium for puppies. If you don’t want to bone or your puppy struggles with them, you can feed your puppy grass-fed bonemeal as a calcium supplement. 

 

 

 

Can Dogs Eat Eggs?

Yes, dogs can eat eggs. Eggs are cheap, easily obtained and an outstanding source of nutrition for your dog. While there are misconceptions about the safety of eggs, the health benefits certainly outweigh the risks. And by feeding eggs whole, as nature intended, you’ll counteract any possible imbalances.

But it’s important to remember that many eggs are sprayed with a chemical to make them look shiny … so it’s best to get your eggs from a local organic farmer.

So try feeding your dog a few local eggs a week and you’ll see better health, inside and out. And the next time you hear someone ask, “Can dogs eat eggs?”, you can confidently share all the reasons why they need them.