Food is Medicine for Everyone: Gut Health for Dogs
It’s not just those of us who walk around on two legs that benefit from eating real food in order to create optimal health.
Our entire growing family, which now consists of three humans and two dogs, eats more or less in the same manner, with the exception that the five of us have varying macronutrient ratios.
We all eat different portions and combinations of in-season, local, organic veggies, a bit of fruit, properly sourced protein in moderation and a wide variety of fat.
The taller humans also enjoy coffee as well as sometimes chocolate, wine and mezcal, while the shorter one is currently on 100% breastmilk.
The four-leggeds, with a different digestive tract, eat a different macronutrient balance compared to us, while even Chris and I don’t follow the same plan to the tee.
The one thing we all have in common, however, is that what we’re eating is food which helps to keep our gut biome flourishing and best able to prevent inflammation from occurring.
This preface is important to understand as I begin the story of a recent occurrence in out home: Preston had to be rushed to the hospital last weekend and although his diagnosis was in fact almost the worst we’d feared (bloat), two things kept us from being panic stricken.
One, we acted quickly. We are a Weim family through and through and Daisy, our Weim who passed away five years ago at the ripe old age at 15, also developed bloat when she was 9, and survived, so we knew what to look for.
Two, we are confident in the way our dogs exercise and eat, two things which, together, will create ideal healing for Preston.
It’s far more serious than a person feeling bloated.
Bloat happens when a dog’s stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid, making it expand. The stomach puts pressure on other organs. It can cause dangerous problems, including lack of blood flow to his heart and stomach lining, a tear in the wall of his stomach, a harder time and in some cases, the dog’s stomach will rotate or twist, a condition that vets call gastric dilatation volvulus. It traps blood in the stomach and blocks it from returning to the heart and other areas of the body. This can send your dog into shock (1).
In our experiences with both Daisy and Preston, they began to demonstrate the symptoms of pacing, inability to settle down and the telltale sign of a hard, distended abdomen.
In both cases, we wondered if we were overreacting, and in both cases, we weren’t. We observed both for two to three hours and then opted to take them in to emergency care and thank goodness we did.
Emergency surgery… or euthanasia.
The latter wasn’t even an option for us.
So both dogs, nearly 10 years apart, had the major surgery to open the abdomen, untwist the stomach and staple the stomach to the wall of the abdomen in order to prevent it from occurring again.
Preston came home a couple of days later and is back to his regular routine of eating his raw food based diet, along with even more of the one thing we’ve all become much more focused on of late: bone broth.
It’s not just we humans who benefit from it and it’s certainly not only for dogs when they’re recovering from surgery, and more than it is only for humans when we have a cold.
Bone broth consumption for dogs includes many benefits such as (2):
Bone broth is loaded with amazing compounds such as hyaluronic acid, chondroitin, and glucosamine which allow for protection of joints. Their joint healing power can be used in treating osteoarthritis.
Toxic parasite treatment, over vaccination and inappropriate diet could cause a leaky gut in your dog. This is a condition in which the tiny holes found in the lining of the intestines to allow digested nutrients enter the body cause an enlarged and increase in a number of the holes. Bone broth can be used in treating this condition.
Bone broth is rich in many nutrients including gelatin, vitamins C, D and K, potassium, calcium, magnesium, silicon among other minerals.
Skin and Hair
Bone broth helps in maintaining a healthy coat and hair and help keep the dog well hydrated. All these contribute a great deal to the overall health of the skin and dog coat.
Bone broth contains amino acids that can help in cleaning up the kidneys and liver. By getting out toxins lodged within the body, these organs are protected and can carry out their functions.
Here’s a tip: it’s no extra work to make bone broth for your pets.
Save the bones from all the meals you prepare for your family in the freezer until you have enough to fill your Dutch Oven or slow cooker. Then, cover it almost to the top with water, a splash of organic, cider vinegar, place it in the oven and hit go for 24 hours.
This is exactly what I do in my home.
The broths I sell at market, of course, are a different story and made starting with raw bones in a commercial kitchen.
If you’re not keeping up with bone need in order to produce enough on a regular basis for the whole family, check in with the vendors at your local farmer’s markets to inquire about if they’re 100% organic, grass fed and finished and raised on pasture.
No farmer’s markets nearby? Not to worry as we can also refer to great online sources such as US Wellness Meats in order to buy mindfully raised bones.
Of course, if you’re in the LA Area, you can also come by the farmer’s markets and check out my broths. I also sell a dog food supplement which I make from all the bits that fall off the bones in the cooking process.
We are happy to report that Preston is at home, eating well and resting, the latter of which is likely the trickiest part of all of it: all of us on Team Stephenson like to move… and move a lot!
Gut heath for all of us!